J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi” is the most widely anticipated of the holiday season’s offerings. Set 30 years after the death of Darth Vader, “The Last Jedi” early reviews say the film is worth the wait.

But a number of this year’s early Oscar front-runners, including “The Shape of Water,” “The Post,” “Lady Bird,” “Dunkirk” and “Call Me by Your Name,” made strong showings in this year’s Golden Globes nominations — while several potential contenders like “Get Out,” “All the Money in the World” and “I, Tonya” also received a leg up.

In short, what has been to date the most open-ended and unpredictable awards season in memory remains — for now, at least — just that, and Oscar prognosticators will have to wait for nominations from Hollywood’s various guilds to roll in over the coming weeks to get a clearer picture of the state of the horse race.

“The Shape of Water,” a fantastical love story between a mute woman and a fish-man, led the film field with seven nominations, including best picture in the drama category as well as nods for stars Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins and director and co-writer Guillermo del Toro. The film opens Dec. 22.

Director Steven Spielberg’s timely Pentagon Papers drama “The Post” and the darkly hued morality play “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” followed closely behind with six nominations apiece.

The coming-of-age dramedy “Lady Bird” — a small-scale crowd-pleaser that some see as the potential little engine that could of this awards season — pulled in four nods, including for best picture in the musical or comedy category, lead actress Saoirse Ronan and supporting actress Laurie Metcalf.

In one of this year’s most brain-tickling and weirdly heartwarming twists, “The Disaster Artist” — director James Franco’s comedy about the making of what is widely regarded as one of the worst films in history, “The Room” — pulled in two nominations, for best picture in the comedy or musical category and for Franco’s performance as the woefully inept would-be auteur Tommy Wiseau.

“That is the most full-circle, ironic dream-come-true,” Franco said. “As a lot of people know, Tommy kept ‘The Room’ in theaters for two weeks to qualify for the Academy Awards. The fact that this movie about his life is getting all this recognition is just amazing. I am going to include him in as much of it as I can.”

— Los Angeles Times, Associated Press

Opening Friday, Dec. 15:

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” See Review on Page 15

“Ferdinand” — See review in Sunday’s Home + Life.

“The Darkest Hour”—This true story begins at the precipice of World War II as, within days of becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) must face one of his most turbulent and defining trials: exploring a negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germay. Oldman’s electrifying performance brings Churchill to life.

Wednesday, Dec 20:

“Jumanji:Welcome to the Jungle”—Four high school kids discover an old video game console and are drawn into the game’s jungle setting, literally becoming the adult avatars they chose. To beat the game and return to the real world, they’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, discover what Alan Parrish (played by Robin Williams) left 20 years ago, and change the way they think about themselves — or they’ll be stuck in the game forever.

“The Greatest Showman” — Inspired by the imagination of P. T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman is an original musical that celebrates the birth of show business & tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.

Hugh Jackman (who won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical in 2004) plays P.T. Barnum.

Friday, Dec. 22

“The Shape of Water” See review in Sunday’s Home + Life.

“Pitch Perfect 3”—After the highs of winning the world championships, the Bellas find themselves split apart and discovering there aren’t job prospects for making music with your mouth. But when they get the chance to reunite for an overseas USO tour, this group of awesome nerds will come together to make some music, and some questionable decisions, one last time.

“Downsizing” — Matt Damon stars in this film, which imagines what might happen if, as a solution to over-population, Norwegian scientists discover how to shrink humans to five inches tall and propose a 200-year global transition from big to small. People soon realize how much further money goes in a miniaturized world and, with the promise of a better life, everyman Paul Safranek (Damon) and wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to abandon their stressed lives in Omaha in order to get small and move to a new downsized community — a choice that triggers life-changing adventures.


“Molly’s Game”—Aaron Sorkin directs the true story of Molly Bloom, a beautiful, young, Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents wielding automatic weapons.

Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unbeknown to her, the Russian mob. Her only ally was her criminal defense lawyer Charlie Jaffey, who learned there was much more to Molly than the tabloids led people to believe.

“All the Money in the World”— Ridley Scott’s kidnap thriller follows the abduction of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) and his mother’s desperate attempt to convince his billionaire grandfather (Christopher Plummer).

When he refuses, she and Getty’s advisor (Mark Wahlberg) become unlikely allies in the race against time.

Holiday events at the Loft Cinema

3233 E. Speedway, www.loftcinema.org

The Very Merry Holiday Sing-A-Long Spectacular! Starts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14. $12 day of admission; $10 in advance. Bring an unwrapped toy to donate to Casa de los Ninos and get half off admission.

“Christmas Evil” in new digital restoration. 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, (Dec. 15, 16)$6 general admission.

The Star Wars Holiday Special. 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 18. Free admission.

The Cat Video Fest Special “Meowy Christmas” screenings. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 26; Thursday, Dec. 28. $8 general admission.